On Running, Or Not, During Pregnancy

Erica Sara running

Hello from week 34 of pregnancy, my first blog post of the year and my last pregnant run ever. Yes, I’m back writing and hoping to make this a weekly practice which is probably silly since I’m about to have my hands full with the birth of Zelda. But no one’s ever accused me of being anything other than silly so why not, right?

This week I went for my last and final pregnant run and it felt great. No, the run didn’t feel great but letting myself off the hook as the weight of my belly finally made it impossible to get my feet off the ground feels like the right decision.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve seen my pregnant running pictures. My belly getting larger week by week, my runs getting slower and the walking breaks longer. It’s easy to look at these pictures and assume that my pregnant running has been all peachy keen, easy peasy miles. In fact, I’ve received a bunch of direct messages asking me how I do it from other pregnant women who are struggling to run. And so here I am, writing my first post of the year because I feel it’s so important to be transparent.

What you don’t see on instagram if you haven’t followed along from the very beginning is that for the first 19 weeks of this pregnancy, I didn’t run. In fact, I barely made it out of bed. Whomever named it morning sickness had no clue because I was ill all day, every day. Unable to eat or even keep down small sips of water, I shrunk down to 103 pounds; it was gross. My husband, Robert, even had to take a day off from work to watch him and to take care of me because I was too weak to lift my head. It became clear that unless I did something about my all day sickness, I’d put myself and this baby at risk. So when it was time to choose between a hospital visit or a call to my Dr for some help, I choose to call my Dr. and agreed to take anti-nausea medicine against which I was so opposed. Within hours I was finally able to sip water and slowly began eating again. But it wasn’t for many more weeks that I was able to actually work out. I accepted that with ease. It took me over a year to make this baby happen, a story for another blog post. I chose to focus on that, on staying healthy and on getting my strength back.

At 19 weeks, I woke up and pooof! Just like that I suddenly felt amazing. I had all the energy in the world and felt so strong. Suddenly, I could run again. And so I did. And so you began seeing my running posts on twitter and instagram. And at the same time, you were probably seeing all the stories out there about other pregnant runners, much more accomplished (emphasis on the MUCH MORE) than I, running and racing. I began receiving the emails, the direct messages asking me how I do it, telling me how difficult it has been for some of you to run during pregnancy, how impossible it feels. I remember having those feelings during those first 19 weeks. In fact, I remember having those thoughts during my pregnancy with Emmett, when I was on modified bed rest during my first trimester and had to drop out of a half marathon because of bleeding. It’s so easy to look at pictures and compare yourself with what others want you to see, what they’re willing to put out there. Which is why I’m writing this post.

Mamas, give yourselves a break. If you can run and it feels good, by all means go for it. Rock those miles. But when the running starts to hurt. When every step sends a sharp pain through your pelvis or back, when you pee yourself every quarter of a mile, or when you can barely catch your breathe and your heart rate begins to soar, listen to your body and STOP. You have nothing to prove to yourself nor to anyone else. What you do have to do is keep it safe for now, and for your future self who’ll need to be there for your newborn.

Is exercise during pregnancy important? Absolutely! But there are so many things you can do. Take walks, practice prenatal yoga, lift free weights and incorporate squats and lunges into your every day activities. Keep your body strong for delivery and so that you can bounce back easier once your baby is born. But listen to your body.

During the past few weeks, each of my runs was followed with hours of strong contractions. I hydrated, hung out on my left side, took deep breathes, everything. But the contractions would go on for hours and would get pretty scary at times. Finally, Robert opened my eyes when I wasn’t willing to open them myself and reminded me of all the hard work, doctor appointments, tests and surgery I went through to make this kid. It’s time to stop running for now and I’m actually really excited to take it easy for the next few weeks until I meet Emmett’s little brother or sister. In the meantime, I’m spending as much time with my little man as possible.

Did you run during your pregnancy? For the whole thing? And if not, when did you stop? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic and any ideas on how to stay in shape until delivery.